Raise your hand if you are coparenting a child. The statistics are quite astounding as more than 13 million parents in the US are living separately from their coparent. And, as many of you may have experienced, coparenting can have it’s challenges. As a therapist who works with coparents to improve their communication and coparenting relationship, experience has taught me you do have a choice about how you coparent and how you handle those challenges.
Often, a co-parenting relationship is reflection of how the relationship ended. For example, if you got a divorce due to some type of betrayal like an affair you might find it difficult to trust and communicate with your coparent. But this does not have to define you as a person or coparent.
For the sake of your child or children, you may want to explore what type of co-parent are you, and ask yourself, “How can I effectively coparent with my ex when I’m still upset or disappointed with how things ended?”
You Feel Like Friends
The ideal co-parenting relationship is one where you and your ex can get along as friends. Your divorce may have been amicable, or maybe you’ve decided to put your hurt feelings aside to build a friendship with them because of your children.
These situations can make it very easy to co-parent effectively. You can have effective discussions, make decisions together, and communicate without any awkward tension or negative undertones.
You Can Cooperate
If you don’t feel as though you can be “friends” with your ex, the next best thing is to work together as colleagues or business partners. Treat them as though you would treat a co-worker. You don’t have to go out of your way to do things with them or consider them a close friend. But having a mutual respect and a willingness to work together is important.
This is one of the most common types of co-parenting, especially for separated couples who were able to go through an amicable divorce or work through their differences for their children.
You Are Too Angry to Co-Parent
In situations when you feel you’ve been hurt or betrayed, you might find it impossible to talk with your co-parent. Maybe you can’t make decisions together without arguing or disagreeing about everything.
Unfortunately, this is probably the most difficult type of situation for children. Children may feel as though they need to “choose” one parent or another. That can lead to feelings of confusion, conflict, and guilt.
Typically, the best thing for children in most situations, is to have access to both parents. Even if you’re angry…. really angry. Regardless of how things may have ended in your marriage the children need to come first above any hurt feelings. They deserve to have an unencumbered childhood. This means the children should not be put in the middle of the parent’s disagreements, neither directly or indirectly through your attitude and tone. Part of effective coparenting is deciding what type of person you want to be and living your life according to your values. This matters. If you become triggered, emotional and have difficulty defining your values you may want to consider counseling to help you through this transition.
If you would like more information about your choices in the divorce process, please attend our Second Saturday Divorce workshop; www.SecondSaturdaySouthBay.com.
If you’re going through a divorce and need help re-establishing your sense of self or if you need help in preparing for mediation at Family Court Services, please visit our website at www.DivorceCounselingCenter.com or contact us at info@DivorceCounselingCenter.com, or call 619-865-3203 to set up an appointment.